Didier Drogba is part of the furniture at coach Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea FC and it is great to have him back at the club this season following his short stints in China and Turkey, said goalkeeper Petr Cech.
There has been a neat symmetry in the two players’ careers since they moved to Stamford Bridge from French clubs in 2004.
Drogba joined from Olympique de Marseille, Cech from Stade Rennes, and the pair won everything there was to win with Chelsea, culminating in the 2012 Champions League final in Munich when became heroes at either end of the pitch.
The Ivory Coast striker broke Bayern Munich hearts with a late equaliser in normal time and the winner in the shootout while the Czech Republic keeper was almost unbeatable in goal, saving four penalties in the 120 minutes at the Allianz Arena.
“Didier is definitely special because he’s been here in the time when we (Chelsea) had the most success,” Cech told Reuters in an interview as Drogba was honoured by the Football Writers’ Association at a dinner in London on Sunday for his outstanding contribution to the sport.
“He scored important goals in the big games, small games, and he’s been ever present so I think that him coming back has been great news for everyone and he is showing his worth.”
Drogba left the west London club after his Munich heroics but he was unable to resist the temptation of a second coming at Stamford Bridge and returned at the start of the season to sign a one-year deal.
The 36-year-old is the second-choice striker behind Diego Costa for the Premier League leaders these days but he is still an integral part of manager Jose Mourinho’s plans.
Drogba started Saturday’s shock 4-2 home defeat by third tier Bradford City in the FA Cup fourth round but is likely to be back on the bench for Tuesday’s League Cup semi-final return match against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge after the first leg ended in a 1-1 draw at Anfield last week.
“It’s never easy when you try to come back and turn back time,” said Cech, who has also operated mainly as an understudy this season, to Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
“I think that we are in a completely different situation now, and we try, obviously, to replicate what we’ve done in the past and keep winning titles, keep winning trophies.”
The 32-year-old Cech said there was a unique bond between him and Drogba.
“When you’ve known someone for such a long time… when you’ve been playing with him for a long time… the relationship is different than when you have someone you get to know for a few weeks,” he explained.
“We went through the bad times, the good times, and we always managed to find a way to have success so I think it’s something we have in common.”
When football fans think of Drogba and Cech, their minds instantly go back to that joyous night in May 2012 when the pair linked arms and danced around the Allianz Arena to celebrate Chelsea’s first Champions League triumph.
“That’s a great memory for all of us, Chelsea supporters and everybody involved in Chelsea Football Club, because it was the best trophy we’ve won in the history of the club,” said the giant keeper.
“When you win something for the first time it is special and winning the Champions League anyway is special. It had been our aim for years, ever since I came to the club.”